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assassination plot against an american president, but i do described in the book some of the most startling information acquired from the cuban defectors, one of them in particular was the highest level most notable cuban intelligence officer to defect to the united states. ..
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>> thank you. i am david nassau and i am absolutely delighted to be here. as i tell my history students until they want to choke me, the past is a foreign country. we can visit their, we can try to learn the customs. we can translate the language, and we can feel the air and light. we can smith observances and recoil of the folders.
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the we are for. >> we are foreigners. writing about the recent past is not easy. while i was privileged to spend a lot of time talking to a lot of kennedys, it was difficult to weed as a historian, working with living people. i would much prefer to work with documents. you have to figure out what is true and what is not true. where the story came from. because the stories are all told
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with the same authenticity and vigor. the other difficulty about writing with the recent past is that it is not always easy or to establish one distance from it. we have a responsibility to demystify and move beyond the clich├ęs about the wisdom and courage of the greatest generation. to tell a different story, but a true story. based on all the evidence we can find. the life of joseph kennedy was, for me, sort of an antique fun
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house mirror. which i looked at it long enough, it would reflect back to me. often in distorted form. images of events and people and places. which organized and arranged 20th century america. joseph kennedy was a invalid type figure. he was everywhere. he was born in 1888. he lived through world war i. the 120s. he lived in hollywood at the moment of transition from silent films to talking films. he was on wall street during the boom and bust. he worked as part of the franklin roosevelt campaign team. he was the first chairman of
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securities and exchange commission and the maritime commission and the first irish-american to be ambassador for the court of st. james to great britain. he was also the father of the president and attorney general. a senator and the woman who did more for the mentally disabled in this country and this world than anyone else. a woman who will be as well known as her brothers, i think. the youngest to, the ambassador to ireland, jean kennedy smith, who was essential enraging piece. and senator edward kennedy, the longest-serving senator at his death in the united states senate. the story of joseph kennedy is
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the story of the man who spent his life moving back and forth from outsider to insider and back into outsider insider. story of an irish catholic who is not ashamed of his irish heritage, but refused to be defined by it. he was a third generation immigrant. his parents had been born in the united states. his grand parents had come here when they were young people. joseph kennedy cared little about the countries whose grandparents had been born in. he had no desire to visit ireland or read about it. he was 100% american. and he couldn't quite understand why anyone would think of him as less than 100% american.
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his anger was the catholic church growing up. being irish catholic in boston, he needed an anchor. he was born in east boston is kind of local royalty. everyone knew his mother's family and his father's family and his father was a well-known prominent awesome politician and very well respected businessman. joseph kennedy went to boston. he went out with the prettiest girl in boston who also happen to be the mayor's daughter. whom he would later marry. everybody knew who he was. he was class president.
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again, he felt a part of the community. 10% of the student populations were catholics. in a large number of public schools. it was only when he graduated from harvard in 1912 that he understood what it meant to be irish catholics on of an east boston politician. he wanted to go in banking and finance. he didn't get a job or a job offer or an interview. his classmates, some of who were
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not as good as numbers as he was, none of whom were as articulate and charming as he was, his friends were constant on-off jobs. even in their family banks or in other banks. the only way he could get into banking was to take a civil service exam and become an assistant bank examiner. his job was to go around the state and examine bank books. he believed from that vantage point, especially in boston, they would see this bright young man and offer him a position. but they did not. they did not because he was an irish catholic. in their eyes, an irish catholic boy from east boston. so he made his own way. he had to make his own way. and he developed his own
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contacts. the boom area in the economy of boston and the united states at that. matter of time was one of the yankee dangers of boston and new york to a lesser extent were paying no attention here. they thought, why invest money in it. but kennedy knew better. because no one else was paying attention, he got into film. using a local bank is his piggy bank, a local bank that his father had helped start in boston as a trust company, he and his friends raised enough money to make a bid on a phone company. he found his way to hollywood. in hollywood, he made it big.
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he learned how to make his being an outsider into an advantage. he arrived in hollywood is another kind of an outsider. a christian. and he said over and over again that i am the all-american boy. i am jack armstrong and a boston banker and i am here to rescue this industry from the people that are over. he said i am not a jewish person. he said that probably. and he needs lots and lots of content. he became the boy wonder of hollywood. hollywood was scared to death that towns would be of the
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ability to put censorship on moving pictures. why? because there is something corrupt about being controlled by east european jewish people. he was not an east european jew. he made his fortune in hollywood he made his fortune because he knew how the world worked, and you have a stock market worked, and he knew every studio that wanted to hire him had to pay him and stock options. he took those stock options and held onto them. he manipulated them, and he drove them down and up and down and up. up into the stratosphere. when he left hollywood after a couple of years, he had filled
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his dream of making money so that he could leave every one of his children -- his nine children in million dollar trust fund so that they would not have the problems that he had had. okay? the rest of the story is remarkable. it took me 800 pages in my new book, "the patriarch: the remarkable life and turbulent times of joseph p. kennedy" to tell the story. i won't be able to tell very much of it now. but from hollywood, he remained the insider and outsider. supported roosevelt. he was an integral part of the museum. he was the first commissioner of the fcc, in which he wrote so many tough laws about stock
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trading, that when he was finished, he had a stock trading stocks and took his money out and put it into real estate. the way he made money he had now outlawed. [laughter] he went on to be the first irish american ambassador to great britain, as i said before. the first and probably the worst ambassador this country have seen. he did everything he possibly could to appease hitler. even when neville chamberlain, the author of the munich agreement, said that you cannot make a deal with hitler. kennedy kept trying. he returned to this country in 1940 in disgrace because he had made it clear that no american
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dollar support the british because they were going to get defeated. the only way americans could survive, he thought, was to make a deal with the germans and italians and japanese. but he said war would destroy the country, the united states. we would go back into depression, capitalism would be threatened. democracy would also be threatened. he became a pariah and an outsider in 1940. the last remarkable chapter of this man's life, from 1940 to 1960, the kennedy family goes from being low, in 1960 joseph p. kennedy became the ultimate insider. the ultimate establishment figure. the father of the president of the united states.
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it is a wonderful story. and i have a great deal of fun doing lots of writing. i thank you for your attention. [applause] >> i hope you don't mind if i stand. i can see you better from this vantage point. it is an honor to be here and share the stage mr. david nasaw . i want to talk to you about the modern times today, being mindful of what david says.
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among the problems of writing about people who have descendents and those with who they are connected to allies, not only do some of these people want to give you advice is to have to tell your story, but some of them you discover have lawyers. [laughter] so it was with some sense of relief that i left the recent present and went back to prerevolutionary wording. i am always mindful of the irony that i am up here in a panel on history. i started off as a writer of fiction. i wrote two novels. almost by accident, got the chance to write the book about henry flagler and his role in building the railroad to key west. having done the research for
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that, i have no idea, but i did my best. i looked at the end of all the research income and i said, what can i do with all that stuff? i tried this way and that way. finally i threw up my hands and said let's tell the story. it was the only thing i knew how to do. it was to tell the story. so i told the story of a man who wanted to build a railroad to key west every once in was impossible. when you look at it that way, it was pretty easy. he starred in miami, florida, and you get to key west, florida. the only difference is i like to tell my students, i teach fiction and i tell my students that when you get to a point in the novel where you need a fact, make it up. it's fiction, after all.
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[laughter] in a story like this, if you get to a point in your narrative and you don't have that fact, you go back to your sources at the library. and if you can't find the fact that you need from you have to change your story to fit the facts. i suppose that is something that any journalist could have told me from the outset. for me it was something of a learning experience. in this case i have told the story that we call disparate sons. we talk about a secret band of radicals to let the colonies were. i always worry with the subtitles tacked on. after you read the subtitle come you don't need read the book. [laughter] is this is a story of the radicals who took us in to the revolution. i have said from the beginning the shot heard round the world was heard.
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my book was finished. because i discovered that i had run across an article in "the new york times" at the current housing bubble bursting, it was in the first time that such a thing had happened. i began to tug on the dread of that sweep of history. before you knew it, before i knew it, this book had begun. bringing you into what it is about, in the wake of the recent presidential campaign, the question of the day seems to be what now. the fiscal cliff looms, modern day tea partiers out their control of fiscal policies will be pried away from their cold
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dead fingers. it shows that impasse is not always inevitable when you glance backward. the truth is that the first major bubble to burst and the american economy popped before that nation was formed. during the french and indian war, which spent a decade from 175-42-1763, the british ordered their troops into colonies, staring little expense in order to protect the interest of the new world. housing prices and rents skyrocketed throughout the northeast as a result. greatly troubling benjamin franklin, who had just returned after five years in london. he said the expense of living is greatly advanced in my absence. he added that land value is
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troubled in the past six years. british officers spent lavishly and locals posited as brokers and merchants and service providers were quick to emulate the habits of sophisticated guests. when any highflyer needed an advanced, the answer was simple. local legislatures influenced by assurances were quick to issue bills of credit, putting out a currencies based upon little than the certainty that the party would never end. when the work included in the freespending troops have been withdrawn, houses suddenly sat thinking. mortgages went unpaid. homes and farms were seized. when the british imposed the currency act of 1764 preventing the issuance, it teetered upon
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class. parliament, desperate to recoup some of the vast sums expended past the stamp act stamp act in 1765, imposing the tax of varying sizes on every business license and legal document in the colonies, as well as every copy of every magazine and newspaper, not to mention every deck of playing cards in play by those to see them through hard times. the cries of outrage were heard across the atlantic. americans were already out of work in cash and no hope. burdened by sugar and molasses taxes and sick and tired of it on wheels of bureaucracy right with overpaid incompetent functionaries who have no interest in the shoveling. columnist were taxed out and fed
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up and demanding a change. now, if this sounds like a recap of some of the rhetoric that has been flying across temporary airwaves, that is little surprise. tough times have always made for tough politics. but there is one significant difference to keep in mind. in fact, columnist had no hope. however illusory, that the next election or the other party might turn things around. in fact, there were no elections this absence. authority resided with the teen and parliament. columnist complained that their political leaders were out of touch and it was not a rhetorical florist. no taxation without representation would ultimately become the rallying cry for a war against the most formidable military power on earth. given our current sorry economic
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circumstances, and bellicose political rhetoric might have its appeal. we could also a member that the exhortations of our forefathers were made on behalf of the desired to forge a nation or group of colonies that even then comprised quite disparate interest. winters and farmers and merchants. slaves, indentured servants and persecuted minorities of all kinds. even after the nation was forged, tough times and were well into the succeeding century. but the citizenry was united in the common purpose to enter into succeeding. to those who forged a system of government, nothing was more important than the maintenance of the system. i will close here by segway to something that might give you a little more than an idea of what is specifically in this book.
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five differences between the original tea party and today. were five reasons they should have seen their losses coming. [laughter] you have to amuse yourself. [laughter] the original tea party was conducted on british ships as a raid by the sons of liberty, composed largely of working men, sailors, traitors, and storekeepers. today, the so-called tea party and sons of liberty represent the most conservative of the republican party. number two is the original sons of liberty orchestrated an armed rebellion against the british, so that american government could be formed. contemporary tea party and sons of liberty members enjoy the benefits of that very government. they just don't seem very happy that much of the time. number three, most of the wealth in the american colonies was held by british subjects who
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oppose the common when two parties of the day. every tea party's will happily tell you that 47% of their fellow citizens are majors. [laughter] number four, samuel adams, you have seen him on a beer bottle, and chief spokesperson for the original sons of liberty was so poor that his neighbors took up a collection to hire a tailored so that he could be properly attired for his appearances representing the continental congress. michele bachmann buys her own clothes. [laughter] contemporary tea party members threatened to orchestrate a congressional impassable from the government over a precipice unless democrats compromise on issues such as thinning and universal health health care ane end of tax breaks for certain wealthy persons. in 1792, sam adams was asked
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supported whiskey rebellion farmers, who in that year had begun shooting at federal agents rather than pay taxes they considered unfair. adams laughed. he said we will vote against the king and exclude subjects from the government and it is just and necessary, he said. but in his opinion, any citizen of a democratic government who took up against his government ought to be hanged. corporate name change from anyone? thank you very much. [applause] >> we will take questions. i think they would like you to walk to the microphone if you don't mind. thank you.
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>> in your research, there was some controversy during the election of 1960 and that joseph kennedy manipulated chicago politics to get his son elected president. did you come across any facts about that? >> yes, yes i do. jack kennedy did need to rig the election. it was someone named richard daley who did very well in illinois. that is number one. number two, there were rumors that the mob helped in and around chicago to pull out the vote. ..
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over the years of less than an unsavory things and maybe a bit of a playwright and a lot of instances. if you have an example for that? >> yeah. hundreds and hundreds of pages. you know, it's hard to know.
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you write a book and stick it out there and then you discover what it's about, and i've gotten a lot of bucks since tuesday but it's gotten a lot of reviews and all of the reviews make it sound as though i've done my hatchet job on this guy because his behavior to words jewish americans, whose behavior during the war and whose behavior as a ruthless businessman was not something to be celebrated, and certainly in the buck. >> is it helpful [inaudible] your patterns well within the
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people who are protecting against catholicism and if he would comment [inaudible] >> in 1960 jack kennedy -- his father said this, if jack kennedy had been protestant we would have gotten 54, 55% against nixon. congressional democrats got 55% of the vote in 1960. jack kennedy got 51% of the vote. millions of white protestants who otherwise voted democrat did not vote for jack kennedy because he was a catholic.
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kennedy's presidency changed i think the dynamics of electoral politics, national electoral politics in this country because whether you like kennedy or not, whether you are going to vote for him if he lived in 1964 or not, it became abundantly clear during his presidency that he had made his decisions for himself based on the constitution of what was best for the united states. there wasn't the pope calling and saying do this, do this, do this. it sounds ridiculous. now but there were millions of people and there were some very important protestant leaders including billy graham who said do not vote for a catholic because the catholic is less, a catholic is in the agencies and
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i think the kennedy presidency change that. >> okay, the day of reckoning -- >> joseph kennedy's attitude and his own and anti-semitism do you think that has any impact on his attitude? >> no, i think one can be -- how do i put this? kennedy did not approve hitler's action towards the jews, she was appalled, kennedy came up with his own plan to rescue the jews, but kennedy and his speeches, in his letters, and his comments
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and his conversations it became abundantly clear to me every myth about the jewish conspiracies, about being a loyal to one another, about jews running the new deal that was called the jew deal by many. kennedy was anti-semitic in many ways, but he was not a nazi idle and not a sympathizer of hitler. he was not charles lindbergh. >> you talk about joseph kennedy because of his character i
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guess. also the case that she didn't visit who became president when he got sick then joe kennedy had an affair and he was never at home. the kids mimic the mothers, so the homa wasn't as happy as we seem to think, and yet the children are outstanding individuals. how did that come about? i have written three biographies now and one of the things i've learned when is that people are contradictory. there is no one in this room that hasn't done anything that a loved one would say that's not like you. we all do things none of us --
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we do good things and bad things one of the things in discovered writing this book and one of the things that kept me going was that joseph kennedy was a remarkable father, an extraordinary father and i detail this again and again when he was in london separated from his children he wrote each of them have letters, she wrote nine separate letters. he knew would teach kid was doing and was too skinny. he was that rosemary at the time in the encouragement. he knew jack was too sloppy and careless and spent too much money and joe worked too hard. so, the kids loved him and he loved them. it was his greatest accomplishment. we just have one thing. at the bay of pigs which was
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jack kennedy believed that the end of his presidency it is a disaster, it was a political disaster and a personal disaster because kennedy felt responsible for every soldier who was on the cubin beach and was either killed or taken hostage and was personally responsible for each of those individuals and the political life was over. bobbie at one point when jack was so low his wife reports that he was crying, sobbing, he said let's call dad and make him feel better. they got on the phone and said this is a disaster. jack, bobby come it's good that you got this in your presidency.
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by 1964 no one will remember it. and you did the right thing by saying -- by taking full responsibility and apologizing to every one of the american people. the american people will forgive you. he said the poll will rise. it will be okay. and they hung up the phone and felt better and they did rise and his presidency, that was the leader of the presidency. >> samuel adams was such a revolutionary leader and so was his cousin john. can you tell us about the different styles of leadership and the different approaches to the issues of the day or how they thought the movement should go forward towards independence?
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>> the truth is it was a lull easier for john adams because of what sam adams had done before him, and sam adams had been called by a number of people the actual father of the country because he was the chief spokesperson and policymaker for the sons of liberty. the sons of liberty is the form of separate cells of radical people opposed to the british by the surgeon revolution necessary that sprung up almost independently across the colonies in connecticut and new york and pennsylvania and south carolina. and sam adams became the chief letter writer and political strategist and the story is told that a neighbor that had walked by his apartment at his house at 2:00 in the morning with see the light in his study up there and know that his pan was going
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scribble scroll trying to lead towards independence but sam adams really was, and of course he came along and did some remarkable things and even defended his wonderful biography and the british soldiers in the boston massacre because he believed that it was right a man of action and sam adams a man of principle. it was said of him she was the living embodiment of the principal. >> when my question is about the founding fathers. if you could go the way to pick one to go to the bar with which one would you go with and why?
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>> i will be honest with you. i think sam adams would be as important as he was because he didn't talk about anything but he believed in. i think i would probably pick somebody like cizik that had been he essentially a buccaneer, somebody that may living by the ship's in the eastern seaboard, but very interesting and dedicated man that risked his life had they been found out for treason it's often said that it's trying to comprehend what they will accomplish as a stokely carmichael went to war not against the united states government and run. that's just how impossible it
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seems when it all began. >> thank you. >> the american radicals that led the war what is your opinion with most of the radicals in terms of the speech that this? >> it was most radical certainly and his passion and his ability to convey and his ability to rally the troops holocaust. people were always fond of asking this question did the sons of liberty really create a revolution and my answer is yes. there had been a revolution had these men not done what they did at the time they did? mabey. win, we don't know. who would have been the leader of the bedle? we can't be sure.
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and some say we could have ended up like canada. you asked me if they had broken away from great britain, but canada did. and they allow those lines. the other interesting thing in this bill is in academia it remains in history a debate whether or not the revolution was an exercise and idealism or pragmatic economic undertaking they were still over the issue, and i think it was a combination of any good model or character that undertakes action usually because it is driven by something inside of the cycle that makes them want to do it but there is no one more driven and that we than sam
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